SEATTLE — The Washington State Department of Health reported six more deaths and 594 more confirmed coronavirus infections in their daily update Thursday afternoon.
Deaths Thursday were reported in Clark, Kitsap, Mason, Stevens, and Whatcom counties.
Six deaths per day has become fairy average in recent weeks, but nearly 600 confirmed cases may be cause for alarm in some counties. In their latest pandemic briefing Wednesday, health experts shared concerns that daily case counts are no longer on the decline and in fact some counties may be seeing an increase in transmissions.
In total, the latest update means 2,132 Washingtonians have been killed, and 88,116 coronavirus infections have been reported since the pandemic began. That means roughly 2.4 percent of all coronavirus infections are fatal in Washington.
Catch up on the latest developments:
Rapid coronavirus tests headed to Washington
Right now a coronavirus nasal swab test can take a week or more for the patient to get their results. That can be costly as patients are expected to stay home from work and self-isolate after any potential coronavirus exposure until their tests come back negative.
Luckily, that may not be the case for much longer. The Washington State Department of Health says they are expecting a federal shipment of nearly 150,000 COVID-19 testing kits. Experts say the tests are capable of giving a result in as little as 15 minutes. They are expected to arrive within the next five to 10 days, and officials plan to have nearly 2.3 million of the tests come November. The first round of tests will be distributed to community health centers, hospitals and tribal clinics.
There is a catch, however. The Abbott BinaxNOW antigen tests are only currently approved for patients already exhibiting coronavirus symptoms. The DOH also says the tests are typically less accurate than the standard nasal swab.
BinaxNOW antigen tests work similarly to a regular nasal swab in practice. The patient takes a nasal swab and inserts it into a test card. Within minutes, they have their result, which can even be sent to an app on the patient’s phone, in case they need to later prove they are negative or positive.
Read more: Rapid Coronavirus Test Kits Are Headed For Washington
Pierce County warns schools not to reopen classrooms
Pierce County is one of several counties seeing a resurgence of new coronavirus cases. As a result, Thursday county health officials warned school districts that it may be unsafe to reopen in-person learning to students at this time— an unfortunately-timed announcement considering many districts are on the cusp of doing just that.
Puyallup School District, for example, had planned to reopen classrooms four days a week to students in Kindergarten and 1st Grade starting next Monday. The following Monday students in grades 2 – 6 were also expected to return to school. But after the county released the new guidance, both plans are off and students will be learning remotely for at least the next few weeks. The district